Bears Deaths in Cherokee National Forest From Our Trash and Food in East Tennessee

John M. Dabbs

The U.S. Forest Service has reopened the Carden’s Bluff Campground Thursday, June 23. It was closed after aggressive bear activity was reported on June 12, 2022. According to reports, there was evidence of bears entering the campground and taking food and garbage from the area. Some of the food was reportedly taken from an unoccupied tent.

The closure was based on recommendations from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). The bear has since been captured, and TWRA officials say the bear has been euthanized.

Trash kills

According to WVLT-TV, a bear died in Sevier County, Tennessee, earlier this week when it broke into a parked car near a rental cabin. It found trash or food in the car, to which it was attracted. It could not get back out of the car and was trapped - being unable to open the doors. The bear apparently died of heat exposure, with temperatures inside the vehicle reaching in excess of 140. Outside the temperature was 95, according to officers.

Forest Order in effect

U.S. Forest Service officials remind forest visitors a Forest Order is in effect for all of the Cherokee National Forest – prohibiting the possessing bear attractant, leaving food or refuse, unless it is properly stored. This order was issued for the protection of the public and bears. Forest Service officials recommend everyone visiting or living in the area always look for bears and to be “BearWise.”

About bears

Black bears are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything readily available, including pet food. Improperly stored food and garbage attract bears to campsites and picnic areas. Though bears are naturally afraid of humans, bears habituated to human food can begin to associate human scents with the reward of food. Due to this, bears can become a threat to humans, property, and themselves, the Forest Service said in a post on social media.

Bear-bag hung in the tree to keep food safeGreg Rosenke/Unsplash

When camping, always:

  • Throw away all trash in an approved receptacle. Don’t leave anything behind and do not burn food scraps or other trash in fire rings.
  • Stay alert, be aware of your surroundings, and stay together.
  • Make noise so that bears can avoid you.
  • Keep food and other attractants in a locked vehicle, bear-resistant container, or hung from a tree at least 12 feet from the ground and 6 feet from the trunk or limbs.
  • Never store food, garbage, or any other attractants in a tent.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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